Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.
This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every dayin the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).
Although Neanderthal sequences that persist in the genomes of modern humans have been identified in Eurasians, comparable studies in people whose ancestors hybridized with both Neanderthals and Denisovans are lacking. We developed an approach to identify DNA inherited from multiple archaic hominid ancestors and applied it to whole-genome sequences from 1523 geographically diverse individuals, including 35 new Island Melanesian genomes. In aggregate, we recovered 1.34 Gb and 303 Mb of the Neandertal and Denisovan genome, respectively. We leverage these maps of archaic sequence to show that Neanderthal admixture occurred multiple times in different non-African populations, characterize genomic regions that are significantly depleted of archaic sequence, and identify signatures of adaptive introgression.
Neandertals and modern humans had a far richer sexual past than previously thought, involving at least five encounters at different times and places over the past 60,000 years, according to a paper published online in Science this week. By studying the genetic legacy left by these ancient trysts—and developing powerful new statistical methods to analyze genomes—an international team has identified how often and on which continents modern humans, Neanderthals, and a second kind of archaic human called the Denisovans met and mated. The researchers conclude that if you're an East Asian, you have three different Neanderthals in your family tree; Europeans and South Asians have two, and Melanesians, only one. (Africans' ancestors, who did not mate with Neanderthals, have none.) The genes transferred to modern genomes as a result of this ancient sex include those involved in the immune system and metabolism, which may have helped modern humans adapt to new diseases, diets, and climates as they moved into Neanderthal territory in Europe and Asia.
The Fed Keeps Talking, and Bond Traders Just Get More Confused (Bloomberg) Two-year notes rallied the most since October 2014 this week after central-bank policy makers cut their median projection for 2016 interest rates in half. The statement left traders seeking clarity about why, exactly, Fed officials lowered their estimates, after U.S. economic data strengthened in February even amid global market volatility.
US has a record-breaking year for solar power (CNBC) Fossil fuels may have been falling in price throughout 2015 but that hasn't kept solar generated electricity from increasing by more than 16% to 7,286 megawatts total installed capacity. According to the data, solar beat natural gas capacity additions for the first time ever, with 29.5 percent of all new electric generating capacity met by solar power in 2015.
A CNN poll shows that 58% of Americans want Mr Obama to fill the vacancy, and 66% hope the Senate holds hearings on his nominee. If Republicans refuse to entertain the notion of even having tea with Mr Garland, they may pay a price in the November elections, when a number of Republican senators stand for re-election. Sticking to their guns is also a gamble that a Democrat will not win the White House in the fall. As president, Hillary Clinton would probably put forward a younger nominee to the left of Mr Garland; there’s little telling who Donald Trump would name. A year from now Republican senators may be kicking themselves for failing to give Mr Garland a fair shake.
France and Belgium Warn of Further Terror Attacks (Bloomberg) France and Belgium warned citizens they risk further terrorist atrocities even after a four-month manhunt ended in the dramatic capture of suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam. Belgium kept its terror threat unchanged at Level 3, the second-highest level, as Prime Minister Charles Michel vowed on Saturday to keep up the fight against Islamist terrorism. Abdeslam, believed to be the sole surviving participant of the November massacre that left 130 people dead, was dubbed Europe’s most wanted man after going to ground in the days after the Paris assault. Three teams of men linked to the Islamic State blew themselves up outside a stadium, fired at restaurant and cafe patrons, and shot members of the audience at the Bataclan concert hall on 13 November.
Thousands in Spain protest "uncaring" approach to migrants (Associated Press) Several thousand people have gathered in Spain's northeastern port city of Barcelona to protest against what they say is Europe's "racist and uncaring" approach to migrants. The protest, organized by the Stop Mare Nostrum and Prou Racisme groups, marched toward a meeting point next to the Mediterranean Sea "where so many migrants are perishing", spokesman Toni Borrell said. Many participants are carrying banners saying "Refugees Welcome" and will pay homage to migrants who died at sea, Borrell, said. Borrell said most Europeans "have at one time in history been migrants" and Saturday's protest aims to press politicians to take accept more refugees.
Suicide bomb attack in Istanbul kills 5, including Israeli (Associated Press) A suicide attack on Istanbul's main pedestrian shopping street Saturday killed five people, including the bomber and an Israeli citizen, in the sixth suicide bombing in Turkey in the past year. Several foreigners were among 36 people wounded, according to the health ministry. Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the explosion occurred outside a local government office on Istiklal Street, which is also home to cafes, restaurants and foreign consulates. A senior government official said authorities were still trying to determine who carried it out, with suspicion focusing on Kurdish militants and the Islamic State group.
Dozens killed in air strikes on Syria's Raqqa: monitor, activists (Reuters) Dozens of people were killed in a series of air strikes on the city of Raqqa in northern Syria on Saturday, a monitoring group and activists said, as Damascus and Moscow waged attacks on areas controlled by Islamic State. A cessation of hostilities in Syria took effect three weeks ago, reducing violence but not halting the fighting as peace talks take place in Geneva. The deal does not include al Qaeda or Islamic State militants, whose de facto capital in Syria is Raqqa. Russia has been pulling out its attack aircraft after announcing a partial withdrawal from Syria, where its air campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad has turned fighting in his favor.
This Country Isn’t Just Carbon Neutral … It’s Carbon Negative (EcoWatch) Bhutan is often overlooked by the international community. The small nation lies deep within the Himalayas between China and India, two of the most populated countries in the world. But the country of about 750,000 people has set some impressive environmental benchmarks. Bhutan is not merely carbon neutral, it’s also a carbon sink—making it one of the few countries in the world to have negative carbon emissions. This means the country’s carbon sinks, such as its forests, absorb more carbon dioxide each year than its sources of pollution, such as factories, emit.
A solar-powered… truck stop? (CNBC) Two sites in remote areas of the Pilbara region in Western Australia that are completely off the grid have been set up with solar panels and on-site battery storage. The solar generated and stored electricity is used to run the pumps so that fuel could get into a vehicle's tanks. It is far cheaper to use the solar power than running a generator whenever fuel needs to be pumped.
Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea
New York Times Hypes Financial Industry Scare Story on Public Pensions (CEPR) DB has contributed to GEI. He says that most newspapers try to avoid the self-serving studies that industry groups put out to try to gain public support for their favored policies. But apparently the New York Times does not feel bound by such standards. It ran a major news story on a study by Citigroup that was designed to scare people about the state of public pensions and encourage them to trust more of their retirement savings to the financial industry.
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